Five Ways Drift Helped Us Engage With More Web Visitors - In the First Week

As our Bedrock Data marketing team prioritized growth initiatives for Q2, improving engagement and conversions on our website was a key priority.

We decided to implement Drift on as a key step towards that goal (cc Gabi Altunes).

I knew I was intrigued by Drift’s “No Forms” positioning (which I wrote about when they came out with it last year).

I knew Drift runs a phenomenal marketing program with great content from Dave Gerhardt & co.

And I knew the Drift product would be outstanding, coming from David Cancel’s awesome product and engineering team who turned HubSpot’s product from a potential liability to a huge advantage from 2011 to 2014.

What I didn’t know was - would Drift help us drive incremental leads (and opportunities, pipeline & customers) from our website? That’s what our Chief Revenue Officer Alan DiPietro really wanted to know.

If we were just “moving around the furniture” (diverting some would-be forms leads or call-in leads to Drift leads), that wasn’t going to do us much good.

One week - yes one week - into rolling it out, I’m happy to report that we are indeed seeing incremental lift.

I can point my finger at the engagement we’re getting, and while some of it certainly falls in the category of “accelerating leads we would have gotten anyway” (still valuable), there’s a definitive category of website visitors with whom we are engaging & converting whom I’m convinced would have bounced without live chat engagement.

I’ve categorized the impact into five types of website visitors:

#1 - Ms. Urgent

This falls in the category of acceleration. Marketing is about momentum, and if you can carry the momentum of a website visitors into a sales conversation, it’s a win for sales and marketing.

Momentum matters. After a good trade show, the question is can you carry the momentum from the tradeshow floor over to sales & marketing follow-up?  And the same is true for a website visitor - can you carry momentum established on your website over to sales engagement, immediately?

We had a website visitor looking for an urgent solution to their Pardot-NetSuite integration with news hitting that Pardot had dropped their non-Salesforce CRM connectors.

Through the Drift chat I confirmed we did in fact provide that connector, answered several questions and scheduled a meeting for later that day with a rep. I also directed our visitor to several links for expert content including a video walkthrough of what she was looking for. We even joked about how she was really looking to solve this problem quickly because her sales team was upset by the prospect of lost marketing automation-CRM integration.

Interestingly, this Ms. Urgent found us via a paid search ad for Pardot-NetSuite integrations - so if you are asking yourself “Should I put Chat on my paid search landing pages?”, the answer is yes!

By the time that afternoon meeting came around, the questions centered around “how quickly can we get started?” as the entire team had seen the video walkthrough shared from the chat.

#2 - Mr. Ready to Collaborate

This visitor was seeking collaboration - he wanted to know what we could do, and then ask some deeper & deeper questions around the details of, in his case, a Pardot-ConnectWise integration.

Thrilled by the interaction, our Mr. Ready to Collaborate scheduled a follow up call for that afternoon…. and a few days later became our first “Drift to Dollars” customer win.

 #3 - Mr. “Not Ready to Reveal Myself… Yet”

Here’s where we move from acceleration to true incremental engagement.

This is the largest volume of the chats. The chat starts out with a question - and you allow the visitor to do so and remain anonymous. They can ask their question without the overhead of having to identify themselves by name. They’re not quite ready to reveal their identity.

You answer the question - and engage in a conversation. Back and forth, back and forth. Provide clear, expert answers to their questions. Ask a follow-up question. Share a related link.  And then before you know it, the visitor is willing to share their information with you to schedule a follow-up.

It’s a combination of the visitor-driven engagement, a positive experience of chat interaction, and the sharing of expert content - where this magic happens - and back to Alan’s question - I’m convinced this is incremental. Here are some real world examples from Bedrock Data last week:

  • CFO knew his team was looking for a NetSuite-Pardot integration (different company than the one above), was vetting our capabilities after hearing about us from his marketing team

  • Marketer was doing his homework on Marketo-Eventbrite integrations as he built a plan for his team to add Eventbrite as their event management system

  • A web developer was checking on the possibility of connecting Zoho & NetSuite

  • A business development lead was checking on the capabilities of integrating HubSpot and NetSuite as his marketing team considers a HubSpot purchase, so he could refer a solution to his NetSuite power user  

  • A marketer wanted to know how long a Marketo-Zoho integration would take, and confirm the pricing (was surprised Bedrock Data does not charge a setup fee)

 The pattern here is that these web visitors are visiting the site with an intent to learn - and a live chat provides them a pathway to do so - and move them forward in their buying process.

 #4 - Ms. “I Need Help”

Another pattern that emerged was a type of visitor who was legitimately looking for help - as they were very unfamiliar with the subject because they had been asked to do research by someone else. Sometimes these visitors remained anonymous (after helping them out), or sometimes they self-identified.

 Some examples here include a procurement person doing research into options for a HubSpot-SugarCRM integration - and looking to report options back to their marketing team. Another example was a junior member of a marketing team asked to look into HubSpot-ConnectWise integrations by his boss.

 Without chat engagement, these visitors would not have been likely to self-identify, and would have left the site without a solid grasp on the information they were looking for. It was natural for them to ask a question via chat, but likely would not have been natural for them to “formally request something” (see what I did there - formally) as they were outside of their comfort zone with a new subject matter.  

#5 - Mr. International

Due to our capabilities of rapidly implemented integrations which can be self-managed by business users, we do a lot of business with international based customers looking to connect SaaS systems without a traditional IT integration project.

 We wanted to take advantage of chat engagement for our international site visitors as well, thinking it would be a nice touch to reinforce we are easy to do business with even though we are not located in their local country.

We came up with an approach we dubbed “Drift After Hours”, where we have a chat sidebar letting our visitors know we are not online but to share their details and we’ll be back to them as soon as possible. Still far better than having to find and fill out a contact us form.

Even better, when we get an after-hours chat engagement (like all Drift inquiries) we route them via Slack - so in the event a team member is available they can respond in real time.

So Wednesday night a little before 9:00, I’m sitting on the couch watching a baseball game and Slack lights up. A web visitor from Australia (where they are starting their next work day) wants to talk about his need to connect Marketo for marketing automation, HubSpot as CRM for his BDR team, and NetSuite as their back office CRM.

Yes we can do it!  

We engage in a great chat - answer his questions on capabilities, on-boarding time and pricing.

I’m on my couch, watching a baseball game and having a Slack conversation with a marketer in Australia about integrating Marketo, HubSpot & NetSuite. Drift is awesome!


My Only Pain Point

The only significant pain point so far is… integrations. Of course I would complain about that since I spend all day at Bedrock Data helping companies better integrate their sales & marketing systems!  

My issue is that although after a chat, Drift can push a lead into Salesforce (good), it can only bring over the HubSpot source data from HubSpot if that record also converts on a HubSpot form. Ahem, ahem - doesn’t quite align to the no form approach.

Since most visitors aren’t going to follow up a chat with a form-fill - at least not right away - then the tradeoff of bringing these leads in via Drift is losing your baseline metrics on conversions by channel - organic, referrals, direct, etc. That record exists in HubSpot, but it’s anonymous and not connected to the lead record in Salesforce - so the data is effectively lost.

I’m sure the wizards at Drift will figure it out soon. They built HubSpot after all.

Pain Point? Drift's on it! 

(Update June 26) - Drift is all about being custom-obsessed and customer-centric. Check out what Elias said in that post above if you want to hear more about that. 

I experienced that first hand. I published this post on Saturday, and by Sunday I heard from Drift's CEO David Cancel to express interest in learning more about the HubSpot integration challenge, and by Monday Drift's VP of Product Craig Daniel was in our office to talk about it. Craig told us that Drift's on the case, along with sharing some other cool upcoming features around reporting and routing. 

Customer Issue? Drift listens & solves

(Update 2 August 17) - After back and forth with me to test, happy to report Drift has firmly addressed the above issue - and now HubSpot source data flows cleanly into Salesforce. Here's an example of a Bedrock Data lead from yesterday using this new & improved integration. You can see critical digital marketing data such as the lead sourced from Organic Search and in this specific case They've also made the Conversion Event descriptions much cleaner.


This has been a great experience of providing a positive review of a product, but with one issue - and the CEO and VP Product Management jumping all over the issue - and coming up with a nice product improvement in a rapid time frame.  As I said here:

I'd be buying Drift stock if I could. 

What’s Next?

Next up at Bedrock Data is rolling it out for our customer success and support teams, including interface via our help site and in-product. Given the back and forth our support team typically has with customers, it’s sure to improve the customer experience for that interaction - and help to resolve questions more quickly.

So stop by and say hello - we’re open for business over at

12 Little Things Marketers Can Do To Better Align with Sales

I get it – sales and marketing alignment is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. I read this downright dreary depiction of sales and marketing alignment from Billy Cina and it got me thinking – there’s a lot more that marketers can do

And I can say that because I’m a marketer.

Like many things in life it’s the little things that can add up to making a huge difference. Gavin Rossdale said it’s the little things that kill, and on the flipside little things can also drive growth.

With that in mind these are 12 little (or maybe not so little) things marketers can do to better align with sales:

#1 - Talk to reps and share insights back with sales management

This is a great place to start for multiple reasons. Sales reps can give marketing good feedback on conversations they are having with customers, as well as insight on what’s working well and not working well related to specific types of leads or programs. 

In addition, speaking to reps put the marketer into a strong position to add value back to sales management. Aggregating rep feedback and then going back to sales management with “this is what we heard from your team, this is how we are incorporating it into our plans” helps ease some of the management load from sales management which they will appreciate and help build the relationship.


#2 - Be humble about leads/MQLs growth

Leads and MQLs are a means to an end, and it’s vital that marketers maintain that mindsight. Lead/MQL growth can be ‘celebrated’, sure, but it should be with the right perspective of keeping the end goal in mind. The end goal of pipeline growth (and the sales and marketing relationship) is best served with an attitude of “we’re happy there's lead growth, but we really want to see it translate to pipeline” as that serves to both keep the sales team focused on turning those leads into opportunities and avoids the misalignment that comes from marketing being seen as patting itself on the back for driving up “lower quality” leads. 


#3 - Align reporting to opportunities and pipeline

To this end, reporting KPIs should align to opportunities and pipeline. As marketing is looking at the effectiveness of marketing programs and investments, outcomes should be tied to not only leads but also opportunities and pipeline. Applying win rate assumptions makes it very easy to look at this from an ROI perspective and keeps Marketing, Sales and Finance all aligned around the metrics.  


#4 - Be the first to say leads need to increase

As a demand gen marketer, if my closed loop reporting indicates leads need to be higher, I always want to be the one who said “leads need to go up.” In fact, for a growth business leads usually need to be increasing. As a demand gen marketer I like to embrace that reality vs. push back on it.  


#5 - Keep your pulse on lead trends and root causes

To build confidence with sales around the path to growth, you want to show you have your pulse on the underlying levers and what you’re doing to drive leads/pipeline, that there is a growth strategy behind your actions. E.g.

  • XXX web page has been our top converter to pipeline, so we are building out more content across this theme
  • YYY content asset has been our top converter to pipeline, so we are putting more promotional $ behind it
  • We are seeing a strong mid-funnel conversion rate around webinars on ZZZ, so we are making that a more prominent focus of our lead nurturing campaign


#6 - Be completely open about challenges marketing is facing

Along similar lines, if there are challenges marketing is facing be very open about them. As long as you clear on what the issues are, what the ramifications are and how you are addressing them, it’s hard for sales to “beat you up” over those challenges. Or they may still beat you up but the issues are open acknowledged, and maybe even leads to cross functional discussions around if additional investment can help to accelerate improvements/growth.


#7 - Treat converting leads to opportunities (and the conversion rates) are a team game

The challenge with pipeline growth is that it’s a team game – sales and marketing need to work together to ensure the right leads are generated with the right follow up programs and turned into opportunities.  Don’t take an attitude that marketing’s job is to generate leads and that’s it, as that will not only lead to poor behavior but that will lead to misalignment.

Partner with sales to address the issue and build alignment around the criteria of quality leads (which can factor into lead scoring and prioritization), provide the right enablement tools and automation to sales for lead follow up, and work together to go after opportunity & pipeline objectives.


#8 - Leverage CRM data for insights around lead quality

Marketers will often talk about the need to get feedback on sales from leads. But I find many marketers don’t leverage the data that is available to them in their CRM systems such as lead disqualification reasons provided by reps. By digging into that data and netting out key insights, that will not only help to improve marketing effectiveness but it will reinforce to the sales team that the data they enter into CRM is valued.


#9 – Build demographic data into lead scoring

Sales cares about getting to the right people in their target profile – whether that means job titles/roles, industry, size of company, etc. So as marketing embrace this and build these criteria into your lead scoring models, so that these things that sales cares about factors into the leads they receive.


#10 - Execute on short-term programs to support sales

Marketers need to be strategic and drive the right long term KPIs that ensure business growth. But this can absolutely be balanced with attention on short-term programs to support sales objectives. This falls in the category of “a little bit can go along way”. I’d want to be all over building a short-term email program to the customer base to support sales objectives. If sales is going to do it anyway, I’d rather partner with them to build and execute it so that it can align with the overall program plans and you marketing get acknowledgment for supporting the short-term sales objectives.


#11 – Focus on the “real enemy”

Rather than beat each other up, sales and marketing can build alignment by staying focused on the *competition*. Look at what competitors are doing in both their marketing and sales programs, and build alignment around this common enemy. This helps keep you at the same side of the table and can lead to performance improvements in both marketing and sales effectiveness.  


#12 - Be there on the last day of the month/quarter

Sometimes it’s just about letting sales know that you care - by being there last day of the quarter/month and rooting them on to hit the monthly target. Plus that’s part of the fun.


I want to hear from both sales and marketing. How did I do with this list? Anything missing? Am I dreaming to think that sales and marketing really can get along (and work together to drive growth)? Or do you agree with Billy Cina's take that misalignment is inevitable and irrevocable?

On NoMQLs, soft paywalls, PQLs and the winning demand gen formula

The great Scott Brinker recently took an “end of forms” blog post by Drift (startup from the also great David Cancel, whom HubSpot has to thank for their Gen 2 product reaching prime time) and coined this the NoMQL movement.  In short it’s:

  • Produce great content
  • Give it away
  • Let your prospect self-educate and continue to consume your great content….
  •  … and they’ll seek you out when they are ready to try your product

Here’s my take on this:

The concept is sound but it’s too extreme. With the gated vs. non-gated content debate, I’ve always said you need to do both and that applies here too. 

I’d rather land on a model akin to soft paywalls of online publishers that goes like this:

  • Produce great content
  • Give it away  to start … and…. Ensure there are conversion paths as prospects move through the buying process. For example:
  • Article that introduces a topic (for free) and as prospect goes deeper into a detailed guide require some info capture
  • Give away a certain number of articles per month and then require info capture on a certain number of articles or specific “later stage” content

I’d also add another wrinkle which is ensure “later stage” content is promoting Free Trial or Freemium product trials. Another compelling trend in the demand gen circuit of late is the Product Qualified Lead or PQL (blurb here from OpenView Labs).  This dovetails well with the above as it says diligently focus on your free trial experience AND analytics such that:

  • Free Trial/Freemium become a strong pathway for purchase
  • Analytics on in-product usage allow you to monitor prospects through key product ‘gates’
  • Such that you can nurture prospects with content to best support the trial experience
  • And this product usage becomes a key element (along with other scoring criteria such as target demongraphics) in qualifying leads for sales, hence the “PQL” moniker

Not a surprise but the winners will be those who:

  • Maniacally define their target audience (company criteria, roles)
  • Maniacally work with customers to understand the buying process – how it started, who was involved, the questions asked, where they went for information -- and document it
  • Consistently product quality content to attract and engage this target audience – balancing quantity and quality (video content is increasingly effective)
  • Employ strategies to convert this audience at the right point in the buying process, and leverage SDR/Sales teams to build a relationship with prospects and accelerate them through the buying process (first in has an advantage - and does usually win)
  • Have engaging trial product experiences with the analytics and process to both nurture and qualify for sales
  • Have a bevy of customer stories aligned to each stage of the buying process to support the above process (ranging from “Why Change?” to “Why Now?” to “Why Us?”), delivered through blog, website and sales enablement

Did I miss anything?


When Inbound Marketing Isn’t Enough

I caught up with John Marcus at Bedrock Data last week, talking about his business’ next step of moving from an nearly exclusively inbound demand model to one that will blend both inbound and outbound and also entail selling to more enterprise businesses with buying teams.

In kicking around ideas we came up with this list of key areas you need to get right in expanding from an inbound model, often 1:1 selling to a single buyer who has found you to solve an immediate need – to an approach requiring creation of new demand.

I’ll list them in reverse order of buying process.

#1 - Create role-based content for your Champion Buyer to enroll his buying team

This is truly the make-or-break juncture of the enterprise buying process – the difference between deals which move forward at an accelerated pace vs. those that flame out due to no decision.

A relentless understanding of the buyer journey includes what types of questions, issues and objections those in different roles will have for your buyer champion. Equipping your buyer champion with this content (e.g. videos, tools, FAQs) will serve two objectives: #1 it will differentiate you in the eyes of your champion vs. any competitors and #2 it will remove potential roadblocks proactively.

Interestingly I was part of a buying process around HubSpot that did not move forward, and found that although HubSpot has a hugely successful content creation machine, this type of role-based, buying process content was not one that they had yet developed -- likely due to being relatively new to enterprise selling at that point.

#2 - As part of the sales qualification process, work with customers to identify, articulate and align around critical business issues – and make these the centerpiece of the selling process

Enterprise buying gets messy – multiple personalities, multiple agendas. Centering around critical business issues from the start of the sales process gives the vendor a way to work with the Buying Champion to align that buying team around what matters. It also serves as a qualifier to ensure you’re in fact working the right deals.

Once you’ve established those critical business issues, these should become the ‘themes’ that drive all conversations and meetings to advance that deal to close.

#3 - Create content focused on moving prospects from the Status Quo to “We Have a Problem”

This is the often overlooked step in the buying process required to create new demand.

To demonstrate this consider two different customer story videos that could be used as part of a marketing program:

Video A: Prospect Says, “Company ___ was great because they helped us solve ___ problems and got us ___ results.” - pretty typical case study / customer story featured on a website. 

Video B: Prospect Says, “What’s amazing is we thought our ___ was fine, until we got a better understanding of ___ issue. Once we realized that ___ issue was actually having ___ impact, it became clear this was a real problem we had to solve quickly. And aren’t we glad we did…. (then could proceed with Video A).”

Video B addresses that crucial step needed to first empathize with and then move early stage prospects forward in their buying process… which is from a place where you may know you have an issue, but it’s not top of mind, and it’s not the most urgent thing you need to fix. Hearing that from a customer, how they moved from that point of malaise to having this become their most important thing, is where content will make a significant impact, and that's the key step to propel buyers forward.  Most businesses have a gap in this area.

#4 - Build and Brand Teleprospecting team as value-add experts to your prospects

The Tele function is vital to creating demand through outbound (as well as moving early stage inbound prospects forward). I’ve described this as applying Inbound marketing principles of helping your prospects to Teleprospecting – so that they play the role of providing the right content at the right time to move a prospect forward in their buying journey (in exactly the same way a good website does).

I’ve covered this in detail elsewhere including this CMO Essentials article, and this was TechTarget’s take when I took them through my program.

#5 - Drive and measure outbound programs across a range of marketing channels – with the goal of initial engagement

Once you have the Teleprospecting engine in place, it’s a matter of finding the right channels to reach your audience where you can get strong return. This includes many options and I'll highlight three below:

  • Webinars – becoming more and more challenging but when done right can still be very effective (Hint: that’s the right content, for the right audience, through the right publisher and promoted in the right way – I covered ideas and best practices around this here).
  • Content Syndication – need to be very careful here and make sure the economics are right. It’s easy to waste money here so you need to be sure you do it right. Also Integrate is a vendor particularly effective in helping customers get content syndication right.
  • Direct Mail – Often overlooked but can be a great way to breakthrough the clutter today. Especially when you look at it as…  you are trying to create that initial engagement and then have your Teleprospecting/Nurture work from there. So the job of your direct mail program doesn’t need to be to sell your solution, just to engage on an initial piece of content (e.g. a “State of Industry” or “Industry Best Practices” report)

#6 - Build and drive influencer relationships

I put this into outbound because this is something that needs to be driven in a highly proactive matter to support demand generation growth. Influencer relationships, and having them link back to your blog/website or content is doing to be a key feeder to the above as well. In addition to traditional Analyst and PR relationships, here we are talking Bloggers and anyone in your customer’s target profile (e.g. peer group) with significant online social following.

This is far from easy but executing the above gets a business to a mature steady state of demand generation covering both inbound and outbound which will then further scale with greater investment over time.

#SDSummit Takeaway: SiriusDecisions clarifies a misunderstood statistic – and opens up a whole world of possibilities for integrated digital demand generation

Today is the day SiriusDecisions set the record straight.

Jen Ross & Marisa Kopec unveiled SiriusDecisions new research on B2B buying process and in doing so made a simple but powerful clarification that should open the collective eyes of sales & marketing organizations around the possibilities of digital marketing supported sales prospecting as a competitive difference maker.

The original 67% stat was “67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally”.

However it often got spun colloquially as: “Buyers are 67% of the way through the sales process before they want to speak to a sales rep.”

The implications of the misinterpreted stat were:

  • Buyers don’t want to talk to reps
  • By the time a buyer wants to talk a rep, they are 2/3 of the way through their buying process

The overall message to sales was one of helplessness and disempowerment.


Today at the SiriusDecisions 2015 Summit we learned about the recent SiriusDecisions study of over 1,000 different B2B buyers from actual purchase processes and we got clarification that: Buyers aren’t 67% through the buying process when they want to talk to a Person/Rep. 67% of the buying process may involve digital content consumption, but the sales/rep engagement is threaded throughout that buying process and spans all stages.

And here’s where it’s most interesting, as I live Tweeted as the event.

The sales and marketing organizations who can partner and enable reps to leverage digital tools to get visibility and engage with prospects will create a massive competitive edge. What we are talking about here:

  • Expanding data sources of potential prospects
  • Leveraging scoring to prioritize best fit leads based on company attributes, web behavior and social interaction
  • Leverage social marketing, content and teleprospecting techniques to build credibility as authority and engage with prospects as early in the buying process as possible
  • Use tools to best tailor conversations and understand where buyer is in the buying process
  • “Rinse and repeat” to deliver useful content to support them through their buying process, wherever they may be

The impact will come from properly harnessing reps around digital interactions. It's about Sales AND Digital and how they work together through the ENTIRE buying process.

Much more empowering for sales reps and teleprospecting.

Much more inspiring for aligned sales and marketing teams to go after this together.

And great news for all the great digital technology vendors at #SDSummit who can add value to help companies build that aligned sales and digital marketing demand generation machine.

Related Resources:

Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Courtney Kay

For our next Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star, we go a little bit outside the box and talk to Courtney Kay, who is becoming a trusted ally to many demand gen marketers in her role as VP, Field & Product Marketing for TechTarget. Courtney has her finger on the pulse of the latest demand generation best practices and as brands need to behave more and more like publishers to build and engage their audiences (prospects and customers), there’s a lot demand gen marketers can learn from experts like Courtney.

(You’ll notice several related links that Courtney shared as well interspersed throughout our conversation).

Zak: I’m excited to pick your brain so let’s get right to it. TechTarget is a publisher, and brands are being told to act more like publishers to support their content marketing and demand generation. What are your top tips or tricks of publishing that you’d recommend to marketers?

Courtney: I really feel for B2B marketers today.  To be effective in this environment, we really do have to act like publishers and for most folks, content isn’t their business- so the skillsets, the tools, the resources and the budgets frankly aren’t aligned very well to a publishing model.  Being a publisher means both a marketing and overall organizational shift in mindset, followed by an alignment of teams and processes to essentially create a content architecture that can deliver thoughtful content with a regular cadence.  I’ve been in this business for over 10 years now, and when I work with brands in the tech arena today on this topic, I focus most on getting the foundation right.  I see three critical steps to get started as a brand publisher:  

Number one - shift from a product centric to buyer centric mindset. Digital enables buyers to define their own research path.  If they don’t like the way we have to say what we want to say, they’ll simply leave us out of that journey.  Historically, businesses have lead with product.  Being an effective publisher means leading with the buyer: what does he or she need to know, and how can we as a brand meet that content need while inserting our point-of-view in the right place, at the right time.  Sirius Decisions does some great work on buyer-centricity, particularly Jay Gaines if you get the chance to work with him.

Zak: Absolutely, I just saw a quote in an article with one of Jay’s colleague, Jason Hekl – Jason said the key to effective demand generation is to figure out how to genuinely help your buyers – I love that.  OK, so what is number two?

Courtney: Number two is getting the right team in place. Traditionally we’ve used product teams to talk features/functionalities, sales folks to talk differentiation and execs to talk vision.  Now we need advocates and editors who can translate the brand and product story into a language and suite of content on any one topic that facilitates the buyer’s holistic research process. This often requires skillsets beyond marketing to more of a journalistic background.

And then third is create a smart content taxonomy, organizational structure. Your value as a publisher lies in your ability to convey expertise and meaningful coverage against the specific topics related to your business that matter to your target buyer.  We classify our content in multiple ways and align our production to ensure coverage across each element of that taxonomy through smart calendaring.  The fundamentals for a solid taxonomy include: topic, stage of the lifecycle, and the specific solution.  If you’ve done the work, you can also leverage personas here, which will ultimately inform your personalization efforts later.

Zak: This sounds like an area where that publisher know-how can really help.

Courtney: You’re right. The key is don’t try to cover too much- think depth, not breadth to facilitate that journey and align the right types of content to the various lifecycle stages. We have a quick grid that can help.

Zak: What aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?

Courtney: When I think about demand gen trends I think about 2 aspects, 1: what we’re doing buyer-side to create deeper engagement and 2: how we’re utilizing that gained buyer insight in conjunction with other data on the backend to continue to facilitate that journey -- be it via marketers, advocates, or sales.  Regarding #1, I think we’re going to continue down the personalization path with brands thinking beyond email nurture, to more seamless/holistic personalization of brand experiences thanks to technology advancements.    The second trend, regarding #2, is the real-time utilization of data in our marketing, sales & service efforts. We’re bringing not only contact details but behavioral details into our systems and providing visibility real time.  We’re also starting to augment that data with other relevant external data to create 1-a more comprehensive picture of our buyer and 2- a better functioning, more efficient CRM system.

Zak: So you’ve mentioned a couple technologies that TechTarget is focused on. What technologies to support demand generation are you seeing increasing in adoption by marketers?

Courtney: This idea of personalized content experiences and better, deeper engagement is being made possible by some pretty exciting technologies that we’re going to start to see more widespread adoption of, and probably acquisition of by the major marketing platforms.  In particular I see content experience tools- tools like Uberflip and Ion Interactive are a few examples of software tools that are allowing us to bring more, related, and personalized content offers to prospects, at their point-of-consumption.  They’re doing some exciting things to by assessing your engagement and capturing information on the buyer as he or she researches and using it to customize it as buyer’s progress.

And then also retargeting & programmatic- the display ad is essentially born again thanks to our ability to merge interactive experiences with advanced targeting tactics, and the immediacy afforded by programmatic to react more real-time with progressive, personalized content via the banner. 

On the backend, when it comes to the utilization of data, I think we’re on the cusp of something really exciting.  First we’re starting to see much more powerful data being made available that can help us make better sense of our CRM systems and prioritized our sales efforts.  Then we’re seeing the growth of predictive tools that are mining our CRM systems and these additional data sources to predict where our next opportunities lie.  This is a space to watch and invest in for sure- we sure are!

Zak: Is there a marketing program that you’ve seen in the past year that stands out as being especially innovative and/or effective?

Courtney: I really like the work that CommVault did this past year- not because it’s any big, over-the-top concept, but because the team got very strategic about how they tackled some real challenges I think we can all relate to, and they share their results- which can often be hard to come by.  I won’t run through all the details, but to summarize- the team was struggling with a few key things heading into their FY14- 1: having so many distribution channels and efforts that they felt as though they weren’t getting meaningful enough visibility across any 1 channel- 2- they were running into challenges trying to drive the adoption of a persona-based strategy and 3- they were struggling with cross-pollination – meaning driving any one account to purchase multiple solutions.  In response, the team reduced the number of channels they were leveraging, created a very integrated brand/demand/enablement approach across those they were leveraging (aligning teams and technology) and worked with us to develop a buying-team focus and cross-solution messaging strategy that drove both deeper engagement with prospects, and a greater solution awareness across accounts.  You can watch the case study (3rd video down) and also check out an interview with CommVault’s marketing teams if you’re interested in learning more.

Zak: OK, we’ve gone deep into some great topics. I want to learn a little more about your background and how you’ve grown into these areas. How did you get your start in marketing?

Courtney: I actually started out in sales and quickly realized that it wasn’t the close that got me most excited, it was creating the vision for a client of how he or she might use and benefit from my solution- relating to them, and seeing that “ah ha” moment.  It was the storytelling that I loved, and also figuring out how to visually represent that story is something I really enjoy.  I do think the background in sales was one of the best things I could have done for myself as a marketer because it helps me relate well and frankly work very well with my sales team- something I think a lot of marketing and sales organizations struggle with.

Zak: Absolutely and I’ve had similar experiences to what you’ve described. And now that you are an absolute marketing and demand generation pro, what do you like most about those areas?

Courtney: This is where I get to geek out a bit.  I love digging into the data to test hypotheses, debunk myths and bring those marketing stories to life.  Demand tools provide a very measureable way to draw some pretty clear conclusions about our marketing efforts, I love to survey, test and measure everything.  If you’re ever subjected to one of my presentations, you’ll quickly realize my love affair with all things statistically oriented!

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Courtney: This is more of an attribute than a skill but is directly related.  I personally think one of the best things a demand generation marketer can be is inquisitive.  So often I deal with media buyers or demand generation marketers that are so focused on the numbers – and rightfully so, it’s a big job! -- that they often overlook the bigger marketing point.  For example with one client we had a series of content that we were marketing.  A subset of that content was generating exponentially more leads so they want to stop circulating the rest rather than poke at why that might be.  So we took it upon ourselves to test out a few ideas and discovered that a number of the assets they wanted to stop circulating were actually driving exponentially more secondary touch points which were also directly correlated to a higher engagement with trigger content.  So being inquisitive to me is really important… and the corresponding skill: being at least a little bit analytical.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Courtney: I have three pieces of advice.

First - avoid “analysis paralysis.” As much as I do think being analytical is important, don’t lose sight of the reality of the situation.  It’s easy to get absorbed in the numbers- I’m definitely guilty- but try to stay rooted in the reality of what you’re dealing with and looking to achieve.

Second - just because you can doesn’t mean you should – technology is enabling us to do so very many things now with our targeting and content delivery.  Be sure that what you’re taking on is enhancing- not detracting- from a buyer’s journey.

And third - don’t over-engineer it- at the end of the day, we’re all trying to sell a product and nothing will ever beat a great conversation and a personal connection.  You don’t need a 200 parameter scoring mechanism or 30 touch nurture and retargeting strategy that takes an astrophysicist to decipher to make that happen.  Take the time to understand a client’s journey from introduction through to close and service and figure out the right places to add your value to that journey.

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Courtney: You can find me on LinkedIn: and on Twitter: @CourtneyLKay  I’m always happy to connect and hear about your great marketing experiences or chat about challenges!

Zak: Thanks so much Courtney.

Enjoyed this interview? Meet all of the Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars

Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Allison MacLeod

Allison MacLeod is the latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. As Senior Director of Demand Generation & Marketing Operations at Rapid7, Allison has a wide range of responsibilities and has both the blessing and the challenge of growing demand for a business that recently received $30M in investment to accelerate its growth(!).

Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?

Allison: Rapid7 provides IT data security data and analytics solutions and we market and sell to information security professionals. That includes the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), security managers, directors and VPs, penetration testers, security analysts, and incident responders.

Zak: With that wide range of roles, how do you segment your audience?

Allison: We segment by customers and prospects, but mostly our segmentation strategy is based on relevance.  We have three different solution areas – threat exposure management, incident detection and response and security advisory services. It is important that we deliver and provide relevant marketing resources to people based off of their need and interest, as well as their role. A security admin looking to scan their network likely wants different content than a CISO who has just joined an organization trying to measure the maturity of their security program. Right time, right message, right person is critical!

Zak: Absolutely. Part of that right time, right message is well defined lead stages, how have you approached that area?
Allison: We follow a Sirius Decisions model, but with a bit of our own Rapid7 twist on it. We measure each stage of the funnel and are pretty maniacal about it to make sure we are staying on top and achieving our goals.

Zak: What does your “technology stack” look like?

Allison: Our stack includes marketing automation, CRM, predictive scoring, customer advocacy, online community, analytics platforms, as well as a few onsite conversion tools.

Zak: That’s outstanding. What aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?

Allison: There are a few different areas – predictive analytics and scoring, account based marketing, personalization and customer focused marketing.

I definitely think we’ll see more of a need for predictive analytics and scoring. Being able to better identify high quality leads and increase conversion is something all of us marketers want as well as the ability to focus on quality over quantity.

I also think personalization will be big in the next year. Being more relevant and targeted in messaging and content is important. Our customers and prospects want what is relevant to them not to be served up a ‘one size fits all’ type of campaign. The better marketers are at this, the more successful they’ll be. But like others have cautioned in this blog series, you have to have enough of the right data to get it correct!

And lastly customer marketing and advocacy is another hot area. We LOVE our customers at Rapid7 – and customer advocacy is really important for us. We get our customers involved in our product programs, events, webinars, blogs and our own customer-only conference UNITED.  I’ve seen a lot of marketers start to focus more on their customers and I think this will be an area that will see a lot of growth in 2015.

Zak: Jon Miller of Marketo has talked about behavior targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers and what?

Allison: This is definitely important and an area I’d like to focus on. Stay tuned.

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Allison: We approach content generation based off of the needs of our audiences, what is new and trending in the industry and relevance. We try to be very agile – so for example if there is a big security vulnerability discovered in the industry -- take your pick from 2014 like Heartbleed, ShellShock or Poodle -- we act as quickly as possible to deliver content that is educational and actionable, whether that is a blog post, video, webinar, or eBook.

Content is managed centrally out of our Marketing Communications team, but we have a lot of contributors throughout the organization. Our Community Manager is responsible for our blogs strategy, and we have many contributors to overall content including PR, product marketing and management, engineering, demand generation, our services group, and research.

Zak: What are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?

Allison: Twitter and LinkedIn are best for our audience.

Zak: How did you get your start in marketing?

Allison: In college I knew I wanted a career in Marketing, so decided to get my Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communication. While I was working on my M.A., I got a great gig at a small marketing and advertising agency in Boston where I got to wear many hats, mainly product marketing. After I finished grad school, I started at a marketing consulting company where I worked with a number of different clients on their marketing automation and email programs. My first assignment was creating a data dictionary for the CRM and automation platforms for the client’s marketing team. I thought I had wanted to be more on the creative side, but that job was definitely a great intro into demand gen, data and analytics.

Zak: That is so cool. What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

Allison: I love working across many different departments in the organization. I get to work with sales, all teams in marketing, products and services teams, IT, Finance and more. There is nothing more exciting than knowing that the campaigns or leads you have been responsible for have led to opportunities and won business.  I also love working on integrated campaigns and using new technologies to reach customers and prospects. It’s a job that gets you exposed to a lot of different areas, and no two days are the same which is something that keeps me on my toes and thrilled to keep doing it!

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Allison: Data driven, analytical, results oriented, and creative are key skills. More specifically, I think having a natural curiosity about results, being able to create and design programs that are relevant and elicit interest, creating strong alignment with a sales organization, and the ability to change course or alter your programs based off of performance.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Allison: I’m in demand gen, so of course I think it is one of the most important and exciting functions in marketing.  For those aspiring demand gen professionals out there, I’d suggest joining a company where you can try many things to see what suits you best and round out your experience. Get to know how marketing ops uses technology and data to drive strategy, understand how the digital team creates awareness and fills the top of the funnel, do a stint in customer marketing, content or campaign creation. One of my first roles was focused on marketing operations and it gave me a great foundation to get more involved in the creative side of demand, and ultimately responsible for both.

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Allison: You can find me on Twitter @allib1121 and on Linkedin:

Zak: Thank you Allison.

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Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Adam Barker

Next up on our list of Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars is Adam Barker. I previously profiled Adam and 12 best practices he shared at a MassTLC Demand Gen group.

So since you have that article already and since Adam’s company is a little bit security conscious, we’ll keep this brief.

Adam has a rock solid demand gen background first at SmartBear Software and now as Director of Demand Generation for Continuum Managed Services.

Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?

Adam: Managed IT Service Providers

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Adam: The Demand Gen team owns content creation. They involve the entire company gathering content from all our internal SMEs. It’s a team effort. We also enable our customers to contribute for items like blog series and webinars.

Zak: Interesting, you don’t always get that clear ownership of content from the demand gen team. Now on a related topic, Jon Miller of Marketo has talked about behavior targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers and what?

Adam: A good tactic is to organize your site pages by pain point and place visitors in pain point buckets as they visit. Targeting these buckets with tailored messaging increases email success three-fold.

Zak: OK great. So as I mentioned we have a bunch of tips already from your MassTLC presentation, so let’s shift to more about you. How did you get your start in marketing?

Adam: I started as a graphic designer, but my early roles were on VERY small teams so there was a huge need for me to learn more and more marketing channels and mediums. This instilled a passion for all aspects of marketing in me. 

Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

Adam: Helping my team learn and succeed. 

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Adam: We look for “T-shaped” marketers, meaning marketers who have deep knowledge in one particular area (writing, email marketing, SEO), but they also have smaller skill sets and  (and maybe more importantly) a desire to branch out and learn other skill sets. In general, a team full of T-shaped people makes your team immensely  stronger and more efficient than a team full of “I-shaped” marketers.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Adam: It’s a skill to be  able to “think scale” for every program/request. The ability to look at projects through the lens of customer AND cross-departmentally with how it  relates to the larger picture that we as a company are trying to achieve.

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Adam: @abarks99 on Twitter, or on LinkedIn at   

Zak: Thanks Adam.

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Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Rachel Weeks

Rachel Weeks is the latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. As Director of Marketing at HealthcareSource, Rachel drives the strategy and leads the team responsible for demand generation, marketing operations, and corporate communications.

Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?

Rachel: HealthcareSource provides talent management software and educational content to U.S. healthcare organizations, so we target a very specific market. Within this market, there are a number of different segments that we target.

Zak: OK so how do you segment your audience?

Rachel: While our target market is very specific, the roles within each organization vary significantly depending on the type and size of organization. While the majority of our audience is hospitals, HealthcareSource also sells to acute care centers, physician practices, and continuing care organizations which include long term care communities, home health agencies and hospice providers, so these organizations may vary in size from hundreds to tens-of-thousands of employees.

Within these organizations, the talent management function includes professionals focused on employee recruiting, performance management, compensation, education, and organizational development. Our products align with these functions in the areas of Recruiting, Retention, and Learning, and within each function we segment by individual contributors/managers who are typically the users and directors/VPs/ CXOs who are typically the decision-makers accountable for the budget.

Our messaging, sales tools, marketing campaigns and calls to action are specific to each function and level within the organization, because often the software purchases for each function are decentralized and we need to be sure we are working with all of the appropriate contacts within an organization.

Zak: Interesting – I think that’s the widest net of personas I’ve heard so far from the all-stars. With so many potentially on the buying team, what is your approach to lead stages?

Rachel: HealthcareSource has adopted the waterfall approach designed by Sirius Decisions which gives us visibility in to each stage of our lead funnel from response through closed won deals. When responses come in via inbound or outbound marketing campaigns, they are dispositioned one of 3 ways: 1) sent to Sales for immediate follow-up 2) sent to BDRs for further qualification 3) entered in to a nurture campaign that is targeted by the respondent’s function and level in the organization.

Depending on the disposition, each response eventually follows the path to lead -> opportunity -> closed won deal. At each stage of the funnel, the response may be dispositioned out of the funnel. The Sirius Decisions waterfall approach gives us visibility in to the volume of leads that are moving through each stage, as well as the conversion percentage. By monitoring the funnel on a regular basis  -- for us it’s monthly, depending on your sales cycle it may be different -- we are able to identify areas where the leads are getting stuck and not moving through the funnel and areas where leads are getting dispositioned out of the funnel. This enables us to target specific funnel stages that need improvement in order to achieve our overall goals.

Zak: What does your “technology stack” look like?

Rachel: At HealthcareSource we use for CRM, Marketo for marketing automation, and Google Analytics for web activity reporting – pretty standard stuff. We also use a product called Litmus for testing our emails on various browsers, we use Brainshark and Slideshare for content creation, we use Beep! directed voice mail for lead gen, and we try to experiment with as many tools a possible to stay in top of the latest trends, in fact we’re just about to pilot a tool called SproutSocial to further leverage social media for lead gen activities and we’re really excited to see how it’s going to impact our results.

Zak: What aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?

Rachel: The effective use of social media to generate leads will continue to gain traction. I specifically say “effective use” because many companies are using social media to share content and engage with their audience, but I’ve encountered very few that know how to quantify its value. That’s something I’m excited to dive further in to this year.

Personalization and behavioral targeting are the other areas that interest me particularly. There are so many new technology solutions emerging that address these areas, and it’s a significant investment of time to research and evaluate all of the various solutions and determine which one is the best fit for our business, but it’s something I am hoping to focus on at some point in 2015.

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Rachel: Content creation is a huge part of our marketing strategy. We have a content marketing specialist on the team who is responsible for the HealthcareSource blog, white papers, PR articles, and leveraging contributed content from HealthcareSource clients, partners, and staff. She works with product marketing and sales to prioritize content creation in response to client and prospect requests, and develops a quarterly list of topics. Depending on the topic and whether or not she wants to include input from clients or other contributors, she will determine what type of asset she will create and what channels she will leverage to distribute it. We almost always distribute all of our content via the blog -- if the asset is a white paper or an article, for example, she will write an excerpt for the blog and link to the full asset -- and our key social channels. She launched a guest blogger program from which we’ve published blogs by HealthcareSource staff, clients and partners, so that has been extremely successful, and our blog offers a great balance of educational content and fun content. Shameless plug inserted here: We also leverage email for content distribution. 

Zak: Hey, you’ve earned the right to do shameless plugs, so go right ahead. What are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?

Rachel: We have both experimented with a variety of social media platforms and surveyed our audience to understand where they are doing their social networking and we’ve found LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to be the most popular platforms. It’s so important to know your audience and engage them where they are already spending time – we post to Twitter through Buffer, our social media management platform, but our audience isn’t really on Twitter so we don’t spend too much time thinking about how it impacts our social media strategy overall. Other audiences will have different preferences for their social networking.

Zak: Switching gears to the personal side, how did you get your start in marketing?

Rachel: I was an English major in college, so I’ve always been a writer. My first job was at a start-up medical device company and while I was primarily the receptionist/office manager, executives would come to me for proofreading and editing because of my background. Eventually my role evolved in to working with print vendors on product collateral and packaging, which eventually lead to my first job in marketing communications. I think start-ups are a great way for new professionals to get exposed to a wide variety of tasks and functions and figure out what career path to pursue for the long term.

Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

I love working with cross-functional teams, so marketing is a great way to do that. While we primarily support sales for demand gen, we work with product marketing and management, professional services, HR, and the executive team regularly on lead gen campaigns and branding initiatives. Marketing, to me, has always felt like the hub of every company I’ve been at, perhaps because most marketers are very social by nature and get to plan corporate outings and events!

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Rachel: Marketing is much more analytics-driven today than ever before. There are so many great tools that enable marketers to dive deep in to the data of campaigns that the science of marketing has superseded the art. Creativity is still important – both design and content – but now more than ever success in marketing requires a data-driven mindset and the ability to drive activities and results based on supporting data and analytics.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Rachel: Based on my experience and personal preference for smaller companies, I advise all new job seekers to work in a small company early in their career. Small companies offer so much exposure and opportunity to learn about all aspects of the business whereas larger companies tend to silo people and departments in to very specific roles. In addition to the company size, the company culture is so important. Job seekers can learn about a company’s culture by visiting sites like Glassdoor for employee reviews, doing research on LinkedIn for mutual connections, and asking questions about training and professional development opportunities, mentoring philosophies, what the company does to recognize and reward employees.

Specific to aspiring demand gen marketers, I would suggest leveraging the myriad of great resources that exist online to learn as much as you can about marketing best practices, marketing automation, marketing analytics, and new and emerging technologies from places like SiriusDecisions, LinkedIn professional groups, MarketingProfs, the list goes on and on….

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Rachel: Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Zak: Rachel, thanks for your very insights here – very thoughtful and comprehensive.

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Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Lauren Brubaker

Lauren Brubaker is latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. Lauren is Director of Demand Generation for NetProspex whose innovative approach to marketing data management was recently recognized with a $125M acquisition by Dun & Bradstreet. Lauren is also the owner of a great Twitter handle – B2BLauren.   

Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?

Lauren: I’m fortunate to be marketing to my own persona. NetProspex sells to demand gen marketers at high-growth companies, especially those who work in the tech space. We are looking for marketers that care a great deal about being innovative, ahead of the curve, and understand that they can no longer put off investing in marketing data management.

Zak: Yes I am envious – you’re a demand gen marketer marketing to demand gen marketers. So how do you segment “us”?

Lauren: We segment our audience based on persona and stage in the buyer’s journey. We have three different personas that get filtered into MOFU/TOFU/BOFU nurture programs. These nurtures offer a mix of content mapped to their respective stages, along with incentives to push people to the next stage. We also have a customer nurture program that is split between one-time purchasers and our subscription customers.

Zak: What is your approach to lead stages?

Lauren: We follow the SiriusDecisions waterfall method, tracking people at Inquiry, MQL, SAL, SQL, through to Closed Won. MQLs must be accepted and move to SAL within two business days, although ideally they are touched within the first hour. SALs are allowed to remain at that stage for three weeks, as our SDR team tries to book an appointment for a sales rep. Once an appointment is set and there is mutual interest, what we call a “qualifying opportunity” is created. The sales rep then has two weeks to move that opportunity into the discovery stage and associate a potential dollar amount with it. We like to manage momentum as much as possible, by encouraging things to quickly move through the funnel, or return to a nurture program. If they do get returned to nurture, their lead stage is set to RTN, and we evaluate how long it takes for them to pop back up as an MQL.

Zak: Excellent – what I love is the handle you have on the timing, and presumably SLAs, attached to each stage. That’s a best practice right there. So you need to feed those MQLs into the waterfall -- what aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year to help you do that?

Lauren: Of course people are buzzing about predictive analytics right now, which is great, but I’m more interested in seeing the evolution of cookie pool data, particularly how it gets paired with firmographic/demographic data for display ads and retargeting. And of course, I’m personally hoping that more B2B marketers begin to see marketing data management as “the new hotness” for their demand gen engine.

Zak: Great stuff. I did recently blog about both predictive lead scoring and retargeting tools so those are on my mind as well. So what does your “technology stack” look like today?

Lauren: We use our own Workbench data management solution to clean and enhance the data that lives in Salesforce and Marketo. We use Triblio for social listening/sharing, and just recently inked a deal with Influitive to create a stronger customer advocacy program. We’re also big fans of Litmus to make sure our emails are rendering properly across key devices.

Zak: I should have known NetProspex was part of your toolset! What technology are you considering that you might add in the next 12 months?

Lauren: I think we will take a look at tools like Invoca to gain better insight into our inbound leads, especially as we increase our inbound efforts over the next six months. We haven’t done a great job creating video content, so we will start looking tools to help with that early in Q2.

Zak: I’ve mentioned to others in these interviews that Jon Miller of Marketo has talked about behavior targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers and what?

Lauren: Our nurture programs are all based around behavior. Any new person that shows interest in NetProspex starts in our top of the funnel nurture stream. We give them background on NetProspex and what we do, and then every few emails, we introduce more middle of the funnel content. If someone downloads, they are bounced to our MOFU nurture program, where we try to get them prepped to talk to an inside sales rep. This process repeats through all our stages of the buyer’s journey. I like to think of it as marketer’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” program.

Zak: What’s a marketing program that you’ve done in the past year that has been particularly effective or innovative?

Lauren: Direct Mail is back! We typically do at least one high-value, highly targeted meeting maker campaign each quarter, and we always get fantastic results. Our sales team picks the folks they haven’t been able to get a meeting with, but they know this is the right buyer for us, and we’ll send them FedEx boxes stuffed with something cool… iPads, spa gift cards, and even a New England clambake for six. I almost hate sharing that, because we have such great results from the program.

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Lauren: Our Director of Product Marketing owns content, but he and I work closely together… we even moved our desks so we could sit next to each other for better alignment. We work off the “content pillar” approach, creating one large piece of content per quarter that can be easily broken down into smaller, snackable pieces. For example, this quarter we are working on our annual State of Marketing Data Benchmark Report, which is a 10-12 page PDF. We take that, and then break it down into blogs, webinars, tweets, tip sheets, and more. We’re still a relatively small marketing team (but we’re hiring!) so we need to maximize ROI for our time. I then take the content and insert it into our demand calendar for social, display, email, etc.

Zak: I’ve seen a lot of success with the content pillar approach – Kapost did a nice job of summarizing content pillar in this post. So then as you are promoting that content, what are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?

Lauren: We primarily engage with our audiences through LinkedIn, Twitter, and our blog. Triblio has been a big help in showing us where the key conversations are happening.

Zak: Shifting to the personal side, how did you get your start in marketing?

Lauren: I started in marketing when I was pretty young, getting my first job as a marketing assistant at 19. Email marketing captured my attention immediately, which is great, because Atlanta feels like the marketing automation capital of the world (Marketo, Silverpop, and Pardot all have huge offices there.) It has been incredible to see the changes in the technology over the past ten years. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next ten bring. 

Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

Lauren: I love the fact that I can help sales close a deal, without actually having to close a deal. Asking people for money gives me serious anxiety… but I love being able to contribute to a company’s bottom line in a measurable way. I have such respect for sales people and the work they do. The rejection they face on a daily basis can be so discouraging, yet they are still able to come in again and do it all over again. If I can help them hit their commits each day, I’m happy.

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Lauren: I think they are many of the same skills that help people succeed in any role in the startup/tech world. Grit, willingness to roll up your sleeves, and a general hustler’s attitude will help you go far. Toss in a love of analytics, and you’ll be set.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Lauren: Get your hands dirty! There’s nothing like real-world experience to teach you the ropes. Learn the basics of email marketing, get comfortable with simple tools like Constant Contact, and work your way up. There are always local businesses that need help getting their message out there. Once you’re more established, two things are crucial: 1. Make friends with your sales team immediately. They won’t always love you, but if they know you’re genuinely working (and working hard!) for their best interests, the alignment is much better. 2. Find a way to connect with the folks in the C-Suite. It can be through your metrics, your mutual love of scotch (shoutout to Mike Bird!), or helping edit their blog posts. Just find a way to connect. It will help you understand the overall goals of the business outside of demand gen, and give you an avenue to share your (hopefully) awesome results.

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Lauren: I can be found on Twitter @B2BLauren, talking about my love of sports, connecting with my fellow marketing nerds, or tweeting with my mom about how she wishes I still lived in Atlanta.

Zak: Lauren this has been great, thank you.

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Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Jonathan Burg

Jonathan Burg is latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. As senior director of marketing and customer acquisition for Apperian, Jonathan is instrumental in the growth of the company defining the mobile application management marketplace. We had a few minutes to sit down with Jonathan and learn about some of the keys to his demand generation success.

Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?

Jonathan: We target both IT and Business leaders who own the success of critical employee mobile apps. Our solution helps organizations securely deploy mobile applications to their BYOD employees.

Zak: How do you segment your audience?

Jonathan: We primarily segment our audience by use case and the persona who is trying to solve the challenges associated with a specific enterprise mobility environment.

Zak: What is your approach to lead stages?

Jonathan: We follow a version of the SiriusDecisions lead waterfall that is aligned to the unique demands of our perpetual demand generation framework. The important part of the waterfall is that it is looked as a communication framework and part of an overall customer journey / lifecycle.

Zak: What does your “technology stack” look like?

Jonathan: We invest in technologies that help us optimize the customer journey. Our stack is made up of solutions that make our web properties easier to find and more sticky, help with data governance and streamline lead processing, drive marketing automation and CRM best practices, and facilitate customer communications and advocacy.

Zak: That’s very comprehensive – nice. Are there any technologies that you may add over the next 12 months?

Jonathan: We are currently working to understand if predictive marketing is right for our technology. We will also be looking at account based marketing tools that align to early, middle, and late stage demand generation.

Zak: What aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?

Jonathan: I think the development of customer advocacy, account based marketing, and predictive marketing tools are going to be hot. Customer marketing and advocacy is a pivotal component of efficient demand generation. By learning from your customers, organizations are also better able to target and predict future customers, that is where account based marketing and predictive marketing will come into play.

Zak: Jon Miller of Marketo has talked about behavioral targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers?

Jonathan: Yes. Because we target by use-case behavior targeting is very important. Based on the type of content our subscribers are interacting with we only send them content that is applicable. We are also boosting our efforts to segment our customers based on how they are using mobile app management so that we can help them become more successful.

Zak: I gotta believe that puts you in the top percentile of marketers of terms of really taking advantage of what’s possible with marketing automation. What’s a marketing program that you’ve done in the past year that has been particularly effective or innovative?

Jonathan: We had an extremely integrated program that pulled nearly every lever - Social, Search, Email, Events, Advertising, teleprospeting, and Direct Mail. We anchored the program with the theme of MobilityPro. We launched the MobilityPro survey and sweepstakes that people could enter via social channels as well as being interviewed live at the events we were attending. We also used an important piece of analyst research to fuel survey responses. Not only did it help increase our Klout score, but we generated significant awareness at our events, received 300+ survey responses helping to create our 2015 Mobility Report, and created a pool of people who wanted to learn how we could help them solve their unique mobile app needs.

Zak: Now that is integrated marketing – congratulations. For the social media component, what are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?

Jonathan: Twitter is our social platform of choice to interact with influencers in our market. We do a lot of work on LinkedIn and are starting to build out Facebook strategy.

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Jonathan: Our go to market is governed by campaigns, which are messaging frameworks that fuel the development of content created for personas that are focused on specific use cases. We have programs and tactics that align to these campaigns. Our department heads meet to kick-off the campaigns and together outline what content is needed for early, middle and late stage programs and tactics. We assign a lead on each piece of content and support each other to make sure it is completed by the time it is needed. This approach has proved to keep alignment between teams and enhance efficiencies.

Zak: How did you get your start in marketing?

Jonathan: Coming out of an MBA I entered into a marketing leadership development program. I had an affinity for demand generation and creating high functioning teams focused on generating qualified sales pipeline. I haven’t looked back since.

Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

Jonathan: I love the challenge of having to think strategically at the c-level one-minute, and being responsible for executing that strategy the next. The changes in altitude required and the diverse challenges encountered every day make the job fun!

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Jonathan: The ability to create team cohesion across functional groups is key. Having an understanding of how aligning people, process, and technology can achieve higher-level organizational goals is key. Grit. I’ve not met a successful demand generation pro who doesn’t have fun working hard.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Jonathan: Focus on the customer experience, whether that’s the customer of your company or an employee you’re working with. If your always focused on the customer you will design programs that make a difference and will motivate your colleagues to accomplish them effectively with you.

Zak: Where can we find you on social media?

Jonathan: You can find me on twitter at @jonmburg or LinkedIn.

Zak: Thank you Jonathan, really insights and you had a really nice example of an integrated program, congrats again on orchestrating that.

Enjoyed this interview? Meet all of the Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars

Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Star: Ellie Mirman

Ellie Mirman is latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. After climbing through the ranks in marketing team  at HubSpot, Ellie has taken her Demand Gen prowess to Toast where she is VP, Marketing for a company redefining restaurant management software.  We had a few minutes to sit down with Ellie and catch up on how she is applying her phenomenal track record at HubSpot to her newfound challenges at Toast.

Zak: At HubSpot you were marketing to a wide range of audiences. Now at Toast who are you targeting?

Ellie: Toast is an all-in-one restaurant management platform meant for all different kinds of restaurants - from cafes and bars to full service restaurants and fast casual chains.

Zak: How are you segmenting your audience?

Ellie: We're still ramping up our marketing efforts, but there are already a few key ways to segment that are emerging. Firstly, we have a few different audiences: prospects, customers, partners, and resellers. Secondly, there are different types of restaurants with different needs - a cafe or bakery may value different benefits than a full service restaurant would.

Zak: In your early state of building out your marketing, how are you approaching lead stages?

Ellie: Our funnel progresses from leads who are just looking for educational content to leads who are actively looking for a solution to opportunities who are evaluating our software and then, ultimately customers and evangelists.

Zak: And what does your initial “technology stack” look like?

Ellie: HubSpot for marketing, Salesforce for CRM. We're a lean team and use free tools like Google Docs and Trello for other tech needs.

Zak: Are you considering any new marketing technologies in the near future?

Ellie: We're a lean team and I think stating we'd add certain technology in the next year is only going to invite cold sales emails so I'll refrain from saying more.

Zak: Fair enough. How about demand gen more broadly -- what aspects do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?

Ellie: What isn't hot about demand gen??... said the marketing geek. I will say that one of the interesting things about doing demand gen right now is figuring out how to cut through the increasing noise online. Online marketing, inbound demand gen, social media marketing... these things aren't new anymore, and simply being online isn't enough. 

Zak: Jon Miller of Marketo – one of your former competitors—has talked about behavioral targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers?

Ellie: I agree that this has become more common - as well as more possible, given all the data that exists about user behavior. Retargeting and behavioral segmentation are likely the starting places for us as we start to ramp up our nurturing efforts. However, I must warn that this only makes sense when you have enough data and a large enough audience before diving into this area.

Zak: What’s a marketing program that you’ve done in the past year that has been particularly effective or innovative?

Ellie: While at HubSpot, we implemented holistic lead nurturing - expanding beyond the classic email nurturing into social, retargeting, and even some offline campaigns - which was one of the successful initiatives that significantly improved the lead to customer conversion rate.

Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?

Ellie: Everyone contributes to our content creation efforts. That includes everyone in marketing as well as content contributors from other departments because they bring great expertise to showcase on the blog. We also have someone on the marketing team who "owns" content creation - from strategy-setting to editing to creating a significant portion of the content.

Zak: What are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?

Ellie: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are our biggest networks so far.

Zak: Let’s move a little bit to the personal side -- how did you get your start in marketing?

Ellie: While getting a liberal arts degree in college, I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I graduated. I ended up taking a marketing internship one summer and fell in love with it. Through my marketing internship experience, I landed a job doing marketing at an up-and-coming startup - HubSpot. That turned out to be an exceptionally good choice early in my career.

Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?

Ellie: The variety - there are so many facets of marketing that leverage different skills. I love being able to do analytical and creative work and work on a variety of things every day. It keeps things interesting and challenging all the time.

Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?

Ellie: Analytical - able to make data-driven decisions, test, analyze, prioritize.

Agile - able to stay on top of what's happening in the industry and in the sales funnel to adjust as necessary.

Communicator - able to communicate well, whether in written form or verbally, both internally and externally.

Curious and creative - able to get new ideas from unexpected places and explore new opportunities.

Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?

Ellie: Get experience any way you can. That means interning or even testing out demand gen strategies on your own personal website. (If you don't have a personal website, start one!) Results speak louder than any theories you can talk about in an interview.

Zak: For those who want to continue to learn from you, where can we find you on social media?

Ellie: My personal blog is and you can follow me on Twitter at

Zak: Thank you Ellie

Enjoyed this interview? Meet all of the Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars

Introducing the Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars

In my recent post titled Demand generation is about lead generation and oh-so-much-more, I shared what it takes to be a superstar demand generation marketer today.

Now I’d like to introduce the superstar demand generation marketers that I’ve come across. I participate in local demand generation peer groups via MassTLC, the Boston Marketo User Group and SiriusDecisions – and these stand out as the best of the best.

What do they have in common?

  • An innate grasp of the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional approach needed for demand generation today
  • An intense drive for measurement and data driven decisions
  • A commitment to the process within their sales and marketing organizations needed to drive demand generation effectiveness
  • Creativity to produce demand generation programs that stand out from their competitors

For each, click to see our interview with the All-Star to learn about their secrets to success for world class demand generation covering topics including an example of an innovative program, details around their marketing technology stack, their approach to content creation and how they got their start in marketing and demand generation.

And with no further ado, here’s our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars:

Demand generation is about lead generation and oh-so-much-more

In recruiting for a Demand Generation Manager role I’m finding there’s a lack of universal definition of the term demand generation – it’s not broadly understood – ironic considering every business by definition needs to scale and accelerate their demand generation (at least, if it wants to grow).

I’m finding a set of people who think of demand generation way too narrowly, for example:

  • Some equate demand generation to an outbound calling function (in a previous post on defining Moneyball Marketing I got into the difference between demand generation and lead generation)
  • Others equate demand generation with marketing automation (I thought Scott Vaughan from Integrate did a good job of describing the differences in a recent post)

A successful demand generation marketer massively broadens from these specific functions to truly take ownership of the multiple facets of demand growth for a business. It cuts both wide and deep, but I’ll boil it down to these 10 components:

#1 – Leads (with Definitions)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t list leads first – but it’s also vital to note that gone are the days where leads are the “be all, end all.” Also gone are the days where all leads are treated equal. A crucial first step in any demand generation program is ensuring lead definitions are established, applied and measured so that you can measure both top of funnel engagement (MQIs – marketing qualified inquiries) and throughput of creating qualified leads for sales (MQLs – marketing qualified leads).

#2 – What Happens After the Lead is Generated

Although lead counts are one of the critical KPI for demand generation success, measurement needs to extend beyond leads to sales pipeline and business impact – so opportunities and wins (and the conversions rates to these) are vital. For demand generation marketers, meeting lead goals is table stakes; tracking and improving how those leads convert to meet opportunity and pipeline objectives is where you move from good to great.

#3 – Enabling Teleprospecting and Sales

One of the influencing factors to conversion rates is how you as the demand generation marketer align your programs and equip sales to follow up the leads and the resulting conversations. Part of a successful marketing program include enabling sales in what content to use as part of the follow up and how to use it.

#4 – Aligning All Forms of Media to Drive Demand

Demand creation is not a single role on a marketing team – demand creation is the culmination of the alignment of the efforts of the entire marketing team.  All forms of marketing awareness and engagement contribute to demand generation programs. Demand generation needs to partner with all marketing resources to ensure cross-channel alignment and leverage including:

  • PR
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Paid Search
  • Publisher programs (which are requiring an increased level of creativity and digital thinking to drive effectiveness)
  • Email
  • Webinars

#5 – SEO & Website Optimization as the Center of Demand

Inbound marketing is vital to any demand generation strategy and becomes especially vital for any business looking to scale to support high volume and low cost per lead. Thus core ongoing activities to improve website performance include:

  • Ensuring the right technical setup for website & blogs
  • Aligning web content to keyword strategy
  • Driving high volume of relevant, engaging content creation via blog(s)
  • Driving quality, relevant inbound link placement in partnership with PR programs
  • Ensuring web resource center serves to engage and educate prospects and effectively capture leads
  • Analyzing website usage patterns and improving website engagement and conversion
  • A/B testing and optimizing various calls to action throughout the website

#6 – A Content Repurposing Machine  

Depending on a company’s structure, a demand generation marketer may or may not be the originator of core content e.g. white papers (I think more often than not, they would not be). However demand generation marketers need to be expert content repurposers, taking core content assets and getting maximum impact from those assets. Some examples include:

#7 - Influencer Strategy

It’s one thing for a business to tell its prospects how great it is – it’s another thing entirely for an influencer to do that. Identifying the influencers and building programs to leverage them is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Influencers should be infused in your demand generation programs and content, and influencers can be the path to the another key to demand gen success – which is identifying which communities your prospects are participating in so that you can contribute to those conversations.

#8 – Marketing Technology Strategy

I’m finding one of the value aspects of a marketing automation system is having a single platform which can then integrate across all of the growing set of marketing technologies in building a demand generation machine. Your marketing technology strategy should result in an integrated approach, with the marketing automation platform as the integration point and including:

  • CRM & closed loop reporting
  • Incoming data enhancement technologies
  • Data append / cleaning technologies
  • Paid search
  • Retargeting
  • Webinar platforms
  • Predictive lead scoring

#9  – Leveraging all Routes to Market Including Partners

For organizations who go to market via partners, supporting partner demand generation is critical for maximizing demand. This includes ensuring an active program to leverage marketing programs and content through the channel, with technologies, process and people in place to help partners maximize their demand and measure the impact of the efforts.

#10 – Customer Marketing (it can no longer be an afterthought)

Customer marketing can no longer be an afterthought and needs to be a core cog in your demand generation strategy. Elements of this include:

  • Programs for nurturing customers – Marketo has recently put out some good content around this focused on customer activation
  • Ongoing customer education e.g. a customer webinar series
  • Customer advocacy – Influitive puts out great content on this subject, which should include a customer referral program

These are some additional articles I found helpful in framing and defining Demand Generation:

This is all to say, demand generation isn’t easy and requires a completely holistic and integrated view (integrated by medium, integrated within marketing, integrated with sales), a digital approach and a tenacity to get results. These are all reasons why great demand generation marketers are hard to find.

I’m going to introduce you to the best Demand Generation marketers I’ve found in an upcoming series Demand Generation All Stars – The Best of the Best.

Five Powerful Metrics to support your Closed Loop Marketing in an Inbound Marketing and Lead Nurturing World

The first challenge of closed loop marketing is getting a system and process in place to enable your closed loop reporting. I’ve covered how to do that in multiple posts and most succinctly you can read about that in my CMO Essentials article “Six Essentials to Setting up a Closed Loop Marketing System.”

Once you done that, you’ll encounter a new set of challenges --- how do you navigate through a set of metrics and reports and use the ones that are the most important? Reporting for the sake of reporting helps nobody – the key is identify the right metrics that help you measure against your strategies and indicate if you are headed in the right direction or have issues that need to be addressed.

In a world where inbound marketing and lead nurturing are critical to building a high volume and repeatable demand generation machine, these are five metrics I’ve found to be particularly useful:

#1 - Active Marketing Database

Your active marketing database represents your ‘cookied population’ of MQIs whom you are using nurturing programs to try to advance to MQL. A growing active marketing database is a signal that your top of funnel inbound programs are growing and your nurturing practices are not serving to turn off your audience. Active marketing database grows each month based on adding additional MQIs, and falling out each month are unsubscribes, bouncebacks who have not been matched to a new email address and those who have not engaged with you via a web page visit in over 12 months.

#2 - MQIs by Medium

This measures how each of your mediums are contributing to MQI growth. One of Adam Barker’s best practices is that each team member owns a metric, and these are key metrics to have ownership by team members. The most scalable MQI mediums to grow are Inbound (Website, Blog, Social Media) and Digital (Paid Search, Retargeting, Email). As a side note I am at a point where I don’t even want to consider content syndication leads as MQIs because of the massive quality difference between syndication MQIs and those from inbound & digital channels.  

#3 - % of MQLs that “graduate” from MQIs

This metric give you a single measure of the performance of your MQI-to-MQL nurturing programs… how much are they contributing to your MQL production? A higher number indicates you are driving performance out of your active database, whereas a lower number indicates prospects are identifying themselves to you for the first time as they visit your website for a later stage call to action such as free trial or contact sales – which signifies a missed opportunity to have more influence as they move through their buying process, or cast a wider net. The best in class number for this percentage for mature demand generation organizations is 50%.

#4 - Of MQLs advancing from MQIs, what were the MQI Lead Sources?

Building on the concept from #3, the next question becomes which sources are yielding MQIs that are then after nurturing graduating to MQLs? This should help to identify which sources to spend more time on driving volume to scale your MQL numbers.

#5 - MQL to Opp Conversion Rate by MQL Source & Medium

As you scale MQLs you also need to keep an eye on quality, and a key quality metric is the conversion rate from MQLs to Opportunities.  Monitor these rates to ensure you don’t see any red flags. The most common red flags to watch for are quality issues within paid search particularly the Google content network and that if you are using scoring programs or content triggers to pass leads to sales, that sales team has everything they need to best convert those MQLs to Opportunities.

Seven-Step Plan to a Demand Generation Turnaround

As boards, shareholders and executive teams seek predictable revenue, they apply pressure on sales and marketing leaders to drive sustainable growth. Today with buyers  in control and sales organizations increasingly blind to the first two-thirds of the buying process, demand generation teams have moved front and center as the key driver of this growth. And most have a ways to go in putting a demand generation machine in place to predictably drive growth requirements.

This is a seven-step revenue growth marketing approach to provide a measured, well-paced and action-oriented blueprint for the demand gen turnaround that so many businesses are demanding today.

1.       Agree to Lead Definitions

Maribeth Ross covers the key revenue stages in this article; the Marketing Qualified Lead definition is absolutely vital. By establishing a joint MQL definition with Sales, marketers create a quality metric for leads and establish a clear handoff point to the sales team, which in turns helps sales perform better with the MQLs that marketing generates.

I find that most struggling demand gen teams have a lack of clarity around this definition which therefore means there are wild fluctuations historically in lead quality that make results difficult to measure, and also make sales’ job more difficult in following up the leads they receive.  The MQL definition  provides a building block foundation from which to grow.

The second crucial definition that is a consistent Opportunity definition, which will enable you to use the MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate to identify top quality lead sources. 

2.       Get Quick Wins On Board – Here’s Five to Get You Started

While most of these steps work sequentially, this one should occur in parallel to the rest. As a Demand Generation leader, you want to make short term impact to support the sales organization and demonstrate that you are able to simultaneously consider short term lead and revenue objectives while building long-term marketing strength.

These are five “quick-wins” that can bridge the gap while demand generation fundamentals are being developed

Quick Win #1 – Late Stage Content

In a Demand Gen turnaround you can’t do everything all at once. So I first prioritize late stage content to help identify and move prospects entering a buying process closer to sales. Look to reface or repackage late stage content, feature it on your website as a means to capture MQLs and drive these assets through syndication programs to bring in later stage prospects. Late stage content include vendor comparisons, evaluation guides and product webinars both live and on-demand.

Quick Win #2 – Website Conversions

Your website is your last step in converting leads for sales, so any improvements you can drive there will have immediate impact. Look at forms and user paths to eliminate friction and improve conversion rates. Ensure forms driving MQLs to sales don’t have any extraneous fields or unnecessary distractions.

 Quick Win #3 – Invest in a Paid Search Agency

If you have been running your paid search account in-house, chances are you would benefit from bringing in an agency expert to help you improve performance. I find some marketers are reluctant to pay the 13-15% management fee, however with the ever growing complexity of paid search and varied opportunities within it, don’t be short sighted and rather challenge an agency to double your paid search performance for the 15% investment you make with them.

Quick Win #4 – Align Webinar and Content Topics to the Problems You Solve

Lead Gen webinar topics need to walk a fine line. It’s well understood today that lead gen (earlier stage) webinars can’t be about you and your products… they need to center around compelling topics of interest to your prospects. However I find some marketers swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, whereby the webinar topic will fail to connect it to the problems their company/product solves so therefore it’s ineffective in driving leads for sales. Adjusting webinar topics (as well as other content including PR) to speak to broad topics and connect these topics to the problems you solve should increase yield from these programs by a multiple.

Quick Win #5 – Nurture New MQIs

If you don’t have a lead nurturing program in place to nurture new MQIs, put one in place. Start simple – it can be a series of emails driving to a single landing page or microsite, as having that initial nurture program in place is essential to establish a baseline from which you can grow. You will need lead nurturing in place to extract full value out of your lead gen programs.

3.       Benchmark Performance by Channel

Benchmark your historical performance to create the picture of how demand is being generated today and what metrics need to move and by how much to drive the required business growth. Benchmarks should include:

  • MQL to opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity to win rate
  • Website traffic by channel (organic, referral, direct) and conversion rate
  • Size of active marketing database and conversion rate
  • Paid Search account performance, split out by branded & non-branded search, retargeting and display network ads

4.       Build a Revenue Growth Calculator

Using the benchmarks you’ve established, build a revenue growth calculator which shows how these numbers need to move in order to meet the revenue growth plan for the business.  To do this you will also need to know the required future bookings (based on average sales cycle), the average order value and the % of business you are looking to drive from net new vs. existing customer.

Take the current baseline, and create an outward plan showing to where the metrics need to move. Ideally you can do this such that you set metrics that exceed your MQL requirements by 10-20%. This becomes a plan which sales and marketing can partner on with clear ownership and accountability.

5.       Closed Loop Tracking of Lead Stages & Programs

To manage the metrics you set out in #4, you will need a closed loop marketing system to track the effectiveness of programs and lead progression in general. I discussed the ‘how’ around this in a previous article Six essentials to setting up a closed loop marketing system.

6.       Help the Sales Team “Beyond Just Leads”

This is a parallel set of activities which will help in establishing demand generation as “more than just leads” and driving impact on demand at all stages of the buying process. The types of programs are crucial as they can help the sales organization overcome a near term lead shortfall, and as leads grow ensure that are best converting leads into opportunities and wins. 

Areas to consider helping sales include:

  • LinkedIn Coaching – Encourage sales to connect with all customers on LinkedIn so as customers switch jobs the reps are the first to know; this also grows their network so they can best leverage LinkedIn as a prospecting tool; encourage the rep to set up their profile from a consultative, customer-centric standpoint so when prospects view their profile, the rep leaves a strong impression.
  • Personalized Landing Pages for the rep to use with prospects and customers – Build a personalized landing page such as this one which puts the Rep front and center and wraps useful content around the rep. This is a page a rep can use and apply at various stages of the buying process including their own prospecting activities.
  • Coaching on Asking for Referrals – Remind the Reps that they, via the products and services the company provides, add immense value to customers, so asking for a referral is helping and not selling, and part of the sales process should include a follow up process to ask for referrals.
  • Help Sales Improve MQL to Opportunity Rate – Ensure system handoff on MQLs is clean, ensure reps are armed with questions to ask to establish pain and value, and consider automated nurturing programs for free trial evaluations.
  • Help Sales Improve Win Rate – Inventory and improve the content sales uses during the opportunity phase; look at interactive content such as assessment tools to take this to the next level, and also consider web-based tools that sales can use to share content and best support their buyer champion during the opportunity phase.

7.       Drive Towards the Revenue Growth Plan

With the plan via the Growth Calculator established in #4, the tracking of programs in #5 and the holistic view of helping the reps in #6, now monitor and measure performance towards these goals. Identify high and low performing activities through your closed loop tracking – slice and dice including program types, lead sources, calls to action, and segments by vertical, size, geography, job function or buyer characteristics.

As you identify top performers, assess the possibility of shifting investments in time or resources into these top performers. And as you identify low performers, make decisions to either invest in improving these low performers, or drop them.

The metrics based approach and visibility should ensure you get buy-in and support for the steps needed along the way and keep you well aligned with sales as you build the demand generation required to best drive the business.